It is hard not to be excited for Assassin’s Creed: Origins.
It is going to be the first mainline Assassin’s Creed game we get after a much needed two year break. Ubisoft previously placed their titular series on a yearly release schedule since Assassin’s Creed II. Such a grueling pace did no favors to the series as a whole. The games haven’t evolved very far since their incarnation back in 2009 and the formula only really deviated in one game. Plus, you can easily spot which games were made in tandem. While there are some good highlights during this period (Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag), the low points (Assassin’s Creed Unity) were enough to turn fans off the series for good.
For me, my relationship with Assassin’s Creed runs deep. Assassin’s Creed was one of my favorites series for a very long time. The games were a single high note in an otherwise toxic relationship. They brought me out of my casual Nintendo fandom and introduced me to the wonders of other gaming companies. What’s more, they became an escape that I desperately needed during a very difficult time in my life. I have nearly 100% every mainline game from Assassin’s Creed to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. However, my horrific experience with Unity was enough to spoil the series for me. I didn’t even bother to get Syndicate, that’s how bad it was. I know I’m not the only one who felt that way.
It is for all these reasons and more that I am very nervous when I look to Origins. Games as massive as Assassin’s Creed need time to develop. They can and should take years to create. A 12-month cycle just isn’t enough time to create a terrific new game, tell a compelling story, flesh out characters, and work out all of the kinks. The fact that the Assassin’s Creed titles are known for their bugs and glitches is just proof that they all needed more time. With that being said, it’s very hard to imagine that 24 months could make enough of a difference in a publishing company that prioritizes release schedule over quality and polish. This isn’t to say that the developers don’t care, but Ubisoft as a corporation certainly doesn’t.
I want to love Assassin’s Creed: Origins. I want to climb onto my rooftop and scream its praises to the heavens. Unfortunately, past experience has me hesitating, but there is thankfully some promise.
Two years is a long time. I don’t know if it will be long enough, but it is a start. It proves that Ubisoft listened to the fans. Thankfully, from all of the promotions we have seen, there might be a breath of new life in this game.
Origins takes place in Egypt. It is set to focus on the origins of the Assassin Order (never mind the actual history of the real life Assassins). We get to play as Bayek, a Medjay who is tasked with protecting the Egyptian way of life. The game takes pages from the standard RPG playbook with a new level system, weapon and armor classes, item rarity, a skill tree, and Dark Souls-like combat. The game also features new, unique systems. Bayek has access to an eagle named Senu who can fly over enemy encampments and scout the area, tagging enemies as she goes. The adrenaline system is an ever depleting bar that, when filled, lets you unleash an instant KO.
Another major plus to the game is that it is completely open world. The map is twice as large as previous titles and allows you to travel seamlessly between the various regions of Egypt. Horseback and boats are the main modes of travel. There is even a possibility of utilizing chariots and camels if the trailers are anything to go by. They might add some interesting variation to travel.
NPC AI appears to have taken a major leap. Animals will forage or hunt when they are hungry, find places to sleep, and even seek shelter in the shade. Human NPCs have daily routines and enemies have varying behaviors and combat strategies.
All of this is very promising if done correctly. Level systems always pose the risk of unnecessary grinding. More complex systems are more likely to have bugs. The developers only have four more months to work out all of the kinks and the game is still in Alpha. There are reports that the combat isn’t very fluid and can be quite clunky at times. It looks great, however, looks do not equate to quality. A pretty turd is still a turd.
Ubisoft has already hit the first nail in Origin’s coffin with their pre-order editions. There are seven different version of the game up for pre-order. Seven! The most expensive edition, the Legendary Collector edition, costs $800. No game should ever be worth that much. You can buy two new PS4s and still have almost $200 left over. That’s not okay on any level. If you need a chart to figure out what comes with your game, you’re doing something wrong! Although it isn’t as bad as the Watch Dogs’ debacle, it is still pretty bad.
This isn’t the first time Ubisoft has pulled a stunt like this and it won’t be the last one. This behavior is downright inexcusable yet they continue to pull stunts like this again and again. We aren’t even guaranteed to get a game that is as good as the E3 demo. Watch Dogs and Tom Clancy’s The Division were both graphically inferior to their E3 demo counterparts. Heck, Jim Sterling has devoted entire episodes and created a subsection on his show The Jimquisition that is devoted to the horrible stunts Ubisoft likes to pull.
Knowing all that I know and being burned in the past makes it so hard for me to get excited for Assassin’s Creed: Origins. I am rooting for it with every fiber of my being, but there is so much holding me back. I want to love this game Ubisoft, but I won’t accept lackluster garbage. No one should. Remember your own words:
“To say that everything is permitted is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live their consequences; whether glorious or tragic.”
– Ezio Auditore